Dr Lynn Calman
Dr Calman is identifying and promoting research training opportunities for nurses and allied health professionals (AHPs) in Southampton.
As a nurse who moved into academia, Lynn provides support for other nurses and AHPs who wish to pursue a research career.
Discovering her love of research
After her nursing degree at the University of Edinburgh, Lynn worked in palliative and end-of-life care, looking after people with HIV and AIDS, which at the time was a life-limiting illness.
She then trained as a mental health nurse, to get a more holistic perspective of people’s health. During her training, she did a research placement at the Institute of Psychiatry. She describes it as a ‘formative experience’, when she first realised that she loved research.
Moving into academia
After working as a mental health nurse, she decided to make the transition into academia. She secured a role at the University of Edinburgh, doing research into how to assess the competence of student nurses in practice. This then led on to a PhD, which was awarded in 2004.
At the time it was very challenging for a nurse to pursue a clinical academic career, combining practice with research. To pursue an academic career, Lynn moved into an academic role. She moved to the University of Glasgow, where she worked as a Lecturer. She then spent seven years working at the University of Manchester, where she held a prestigious MRC Postdoctoral Fellowship in Health Services Research investigating the follow-up of people living with lung cancer.
Lynn joined the University of Southampton in 2011. Her research continues to focus on the needs of people living with cancer. Over the last decade, advances in treatment have greatly improved survival for people with many types of advanced cancer. People who would have previously only lived for months now live for two or three years. This presents new challenges, such as psychological issues associated with living with a treatable but incurable illness, which her research aims to address.
Supporting staff and students in Southampton
Throughout the last four or five years, Lynn has worked hard to provide support for nurses and AHPs to pursue a career in research. This has included supporting nurses and AHPs to do master’s degrees, NIHR fellowships and PhDs. Her reputation as a nurse researcher has meant people have contacted her directly for advice and supervision.
As Associate Director at SoAR, she intends to use her experience to support nurses and AHPs in the NHS on a much bigger scale. She is driven by her passion for research, and her desire to support all nurses and AHPs interested in research.
Today, it is possible for nurses and AHPs to have a clinical academic career, but funding can be very competitive. Lynn supports those who wish to pursue this path to help them identify training, experience and funding opportunities.
She believes nurses and AHPs are in a unique position to ask the research questions that matter to patients. For practice to be evidence-based, she says it’s essential people in these professions do research, as they know the challenges and help ensure research is grounded in practice.